Mary Anne here. Recently I was a guest at my son’s girlfriend’s house. She is lucky enough to enjoy a warm and supportive relationship with her “mum” and dad, who quite frankly – and understandably – dote on their beautiful child. Many of her family’s weekends are filled with any available friends, siblings and assorted grandsons who gather in their expansive, bucolic backyard in Connecticut.
At this particular throw-down, one of the other guests and their two lovely daughters contributed a pulled pork pasta salad to the table. At first glance I thought, “Oh, just another summer salad – yawn…” But at first bite, I was completely blown away by the flavor and the texture of the veggies, which were coupled with the just-sweet-enough nibbles of pulled pork. I lost count after dipping into the communal bowl a third time. For real! Obviously, I had to try to replicate their version, which was inspired by this recipe.
I made a few changes – swapping out a bit of this and a dash of that and adding fresh cucumber to the veggies. Whether you go for the original or my slightly lower caloric rendition, this is a pasta salad that is not just for summer gatherings, but also a year-round keeper!
If you’d prefer to make your own pulled pork, try one of these mouth-watering renditions:
Chipotle-Spiced Pulled Pork
Pineapple Pulled Pork
Asian-Spiced Pulled Pork
Root-Beer Braised Pulled Pork
Cider-Braised Pulled Pork
Pulled Pork Pasta Salad
Serves 12 as a side dish
Note: This salad was intended as a straight-up side dish to enjoy pretty much any season. As I wasn’t entertaining a large group of guests, I found myself scarfing up just about all of the leftovers after our first round of photos and tastings. At the end of the day, post-Manster-sitting, I dished it up over a bowl of fresh arugula and spinach and added small chunks of soft brie and sliced organic grape tomatoes. I tossed my once-again altered creation with a small amount of the leftover dressing. It was an incredibly delicious spinoff of the original recipe and yet it still brought me right back to that lovely afternoon in a favorite family’s backyard garden!
½ lb. prepared pulled pork (I used Jack Daniel’s brand) or you can make your own – $5.99
1 lb. fusilli – $1.29
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar -stock
1 Teaspoon Srichacha hot sauce – from a well-stocked Asian pantry
½ Teaspoon chili powder – stock
Pinch cayenne pepper – stock
½ cup mayonnaise – stock
½ cup Greek yogurt – $0.89
½ cup BBQ Sauce – $0.99
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine – $0.99
1 cup English cucumber, chopped – $0.99
4 or 5 scallions, diced, including the green part – $0.99
3 Tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro – $0.99
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $13.12
Total Per Serving: $1.09
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold running water in a colander, drain and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, hot sauce, chili powder, cayenne pepper, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt and BBQ sauce. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables and pasta. Add about half of the BBQ dressing and toss to coat, mixing well. (Save the remaining dressing in a sealed container in the refrigerator.) Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Arrange the pulled pork on top and then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
5. Before serving, add the cilantro. If the pasta seems a bit dry to your taste add a few spoonfuls of the remaining dressing and mix well.